Writing exercise in response to the clever Ms Robinson's Back to School Challenge:
The couple is from Texas and the wife is very blonde. But instead of the expected nod to Dynasty-era Linda Evans, she’s gone with a long curtain of intricately woven shades of caramel, ginger, and gold, a la Paris Hilton circa present day Los Angeles. Her face is mid to upper forties, but similarly polished, the result no doubt of monthly laser treatments, Botox injections, and a life-long, near paranoid avoidance of the sun.
The husband, well he's nothing much to look at. Mid-sized and beefy and car salesman-esque, although I'm sure he said he's in pharmaceuticals. His complexion is the exact opposite of his wife's: flushed and pitted and creased, like he’s spent too much time out of the sun in favor of bars and boardrooms.
My neighbor is selling his house himself and I've been asked to show them around the property while he's off on some kind of horse-trading business in Colorado.
"I luuuuuuuv it," the wife says as we enter the front patio, which my neighbor crafted himself out of adobe and flagstone and expensive imported Italian glass bricks. I was there to watch most of it being built, sipping wine from my perch on a nearby stack of shipping crates every afternoon for weeks, neglecting my own work, transfixed instead by the workings of my neighbor’s hands.
The wife speaks: "You know, there's something so," she pauses and tilts her head, searching, "Earthy and real, the way y'all do things out here with the architecture."
I arch my brows noncommittally and she takes this as a signal to continue. “And y’all’s arts and crafts,” she pauses and puts a hand to her throat. “I just luuuuuuuv Indian art.”
I catch her husband rolling his eyes. "She's got it bad for the Land of Enchantment. I’m going to go broke, with her collecting. And she’s been buggin' me for years to come out here and buy her a little someplace where she can put it all.”
He’s interrupted from speaking further by the sound of a car engine coming up the drive. Not cautiously, given the slope and the unfinished surface, but fast, like it’s running from trouble. Or, towards it.
A black sedan of indeterminate origin kicks up a cloud of dust as it comes to a halt in front of the house. Emerging from the driver’s side is a gleaming red patent leather pump, followed by a long length of tanned leg, a short black skirt and then a woman even blonder and younger than the wife.
“Dalton!” shrieks the woman as she wobbles towards us, her heels trying to negotiate the gravel of the drive, “You shit ball!” She is holding something close to her chest, about a foot long and wrapped in white cloth, like a swaddled baby.
“I can’t believe you’re out here with her!” she points an exquisitely French manicured finger at the wife and then stops. “You said you were going to leave her! You said that we’d be together for-evuuur.” The way she drags out the last syllable reveals just how young she is.
Dalton waves his hands in front of his body and takes a couple steps backwards. “Now hold on there, Lydia, you know I never said any such thing.”
I glance at the wife, who is standing with her legs spread slightly apart, her hands on her hips, her head swiveling back and forth between the two, as if she were waiting for an argument between two school children to play itself out. I’m reminded of a similarly desperate exchange between my neighbor and myself and inwardly cringe.
“And here, you can have this back!” With a quick motion, she flings the package out of her arms, the contents spilling out in a dramatic unfolding of white cloth. A bronze cast statue of a cowboy on a bucking bronco hits the ground with a thud.
“He bought me that last week in Dallas,” she says, sneering at the wife. “He said it was a pre-engagement gift. Well, some gift. Dalton, you can just go fuck yourself. We’re through.” And then she turns and heads back to the car. But she pauses to look back just slightly longer than necessary. Finally, she gets in and speeds back down the drive.
Dalton moves a trembling hand through his thinning hair and glances at his wife, a hangdog look on his face.
The wife fixes him with a long, blank stare. “Jesus, Dalton. Where’d you find that one?” Then she bends over to pick up the statue.
“Frederic Remington,” she near-whispers. “I’m impressed.” Then she smiles at her husband. “It’s going to look very nice on the mantle of this house you’re about to buy me.”